It’s rare that we at Stone are lost for words, yet, in remembering our dear friend Matt Courtright, it’s tough to even know where to begin. But it seems the most appropriate place is with the very special person that we miss so much. Matt was an architect from Michigan who followed his passion for craft beer beyond his vocational and geographic boundaries, making a drastic career change to become a professional brewer. From the moment he came aboard, we knew we had someone special within our ranks. And not just because he was an extraordinary brewer—which he most certainly was. No, there was much more to Matt than his workplace assets. So much more.
Stone Brewing Co. has been in business now for 17 years. (We know, we can hardly believe how quickly the time has flown, either.) Over that span, we’ve lifted pints, snifters, bombers and magnums of aggressively hopped, intensely flavored craft beer like vibrant, flashy banners proclaiming our mission and progress in pushing the American craft beer movement forward. But accomplishing that has been about more than making great beer. We aim to elevate everything about the craft beer culture. That includes events ranging from beer education to food-and-beer symbiosis to beer festivals. We think we’ve done a heck of a job with the latter, offering fests devoted to sour beer, barrel-aged beer and dark beer. But our expertise at putting on grand-scale festivals springs from extensive experience putting on our yearly, incrementally more incredible Stone Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival. It’s never the same, yet it never disappoints, and this year will be no different.
Craft beer is life here at Stone. In the best cases, however, our beer has the ability to make positive impacts on the lives of others. Such is the case with one of the first beers brewed up on our brand new ten-barrel brewhouse at our equally new second farm-to-table restaurant, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station: Operation Homefront IPA. Liberty Station Brewing Manager Kris Ketcham joined the ranks of several brewers across the country to craft this beer for Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization supporting and bettering the lives of U.S. Military families, as part of their Hops For Heroes initiative. That program was supported not only by American craft breweries including Left Hand Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing and 21st Amendment Brewery, but also Major League Baseball and Louisville Slugger, making for a great example of strength in numbers being channeled into making a big difference through great beer and even better intentions.
It seems like we say this every twelve months (probably because we do), but this has been a huge year for us at Stone. Perhaps the biggest yet. Things never slow down here, and that’s the way we like it. Truth be told, we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if we had a spare moment! So a heartfelt thank you goes out to each and every one of our fans for ensuring we maintain the breakneck pace we’ve become so accustomed to.
Despite our infatuation with constant rapid progress, we feel compelled to take a moment, be it ever so brief, to reflect on the year gone by. A lot happened in our brewhouse, at our restaurant, in our community and beyond. This was a very good year, one that should be fully remembered for years to come. In that spirit, we submit to you, our valued fans, a retrospective of 2012 at Stone.
If you’ve ever been to one of our Anniversary Celebrations, you’re awesome. You’ve been part of something special. Part of something larger than we could have ever envisioned. Something larger than we ever could have created without you. The Stone 16th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival is SoCal’s biggest beer festival, with over 100 beers to choose from! It’s taking place on August 17th and 18th at nearby California State University, San Marcos. Our Rare Beer section is sold out, but we’ve still got tickets left (for now, anyway) for Friday night’s Brewers Reception and the main event on Saturday!
Over the past 15 years, we’ve raised MORE THAN $1.5 MILLION for local charities through these neat little get-togethers with a few thousand of our closest friends, including an astronomical $240,000 at last year’s festival alone! Given that we’re Stone, we always want to go bigger and better, which is why we know that this year’s will be the greatest ever! (’til next year at least…)
- One (1) snazzy commemorative Stone 16th Anniversary tasting glass
- Ten 4-oz. samples (BTW, you get to choose from over 150 amazing beers made by the 50 craft breweries in attendance. BOOM!)
- Free homebrewed sodas, provided by the Society Of Barley Engineers
- Aaaaannnd samples of über-delicious Mike’s Beer Cheese!
Delectable food will be available for purchase from some of our favorite local restaurants/vendors and our very own Stone Catering. Never to be missed, we’ll also have the (in)famous Arrogant Bastard Ale onion rings. (This is the only event each year where we offer them; the only other way you get get em is if you make them yourself!)
We’re doing it all up bigger and better: pouring the very first drops of the brand new, super-secret-super-fresh Stone Enjoy By IPA, adding live music and more space, including a nifty new area we’re calling Steve’s Cigar Lounge. (Stone prez/co-founder Steve Wagner + cigars + kickback area = Steve’s Cigar Lounge.) We’ll of course have plenty of Stone 16th Anniversary IPA on hand as well!